Outstanding Opinion Piece in Today's The Daily Gleaner - Sep. 20, 2011
'Food, water, shelter - those three items represent our most basic needs in life.
But they're not just the requirements for human life. Animals need those three essentials as well.
At a 58-hectare hobby farm in Tilley, near Perth-Andover, 38 horses were deprived of those basic needs, so the SPCA stepped in.
The raid was a year ago, but the court case just concluded last week with the sentencing of the farm's owners.
The Tomalin sisters - Sandra, 71 and Beverley, 68, were fined and given a 10-year ban on owning horses. Considering their age, this ban will likely last a lifetime, which is reassuring.
The state of the horses and farm was shocking:
Pasture - inadequate.
Water supply - inadequate.
Food supply - inadequate.
Veterinary care - non-existent.
And SPCA authorities made a horrible discovery on the farm: an aborted fetus and another dead horse, partially buried.
Clearly these women would not or could not care for their animals and did not have the means or the motivation to seek proper help.
Certainly the women deserve a 10-year ban, but what's just as shocking as the state of their horses is the fact that in 2010, the sisters pleaded guilty to failing to provide proper care to 100 dogs on their former property near Owen Sound, Ont. The judge there imposed a 10-year ban on owning dogs.
It was shortly after that when the sisters arrived in New Brunswick, bought a farm and populated it with horses rather than dogs.
Obviously, this neglect of 38 horses is not a mistake or an oversight. These women seem to make a habit of accumulating animals without the means to care for them.
During the sentencing hearing last week, Sandra Tomalin was defiant and unrepentant.
"I have had horses for 50 years and never neglected them," Sandra Tomalin said. "I never neglected any animal in my life."
The courts have decided otherwise - twice.
After the horses were seized last summer, three had to be put down. Sandra Tomalin had this to say about the SPCA seizure and the ultimate outcome.
"What care did they give them?" Sandra Tomalin said. "They killed them."
This case comes just as a major seizure was taking place in southwestern Quebec. There, more than 500 - yes, 500 - dogs were taken from a puppy mill last week. This represents the largest seizure in Quebec's history.
The suffering and the mess are unimaginable. It is beyond our understanding how beautiful dogs and horses can be neglected so badly that they have to be taken away by force, and some put down.
In the Quebec case, the owners were profit-seeking entrepreneurs.
With the Tomalins, it's more a case of uneducated, elderly people who collect animals without an appreciation of what constitutes a basic standard of care.
But whatever the motivation, the results are, unfortunately, the same - neglected animals suffering all sorts of problems at the hands of their human owners, SPCA raids, putting down those beyond help, arrests, court cases, convictions, fines, bans and public outcry.'